Friday, August 9, 2013

Return from Haven..or Was It Heaven?

Haven was .... there's just no words. 
"Wow" is all I've got.

I have been reading reviews of Haven all week, instead of posting, because I haven't been able to verbalize the experience.

So here goes nothing..

Haven was friends. 

 Angie of Angie's Roost was my first friend at the conference. 
Notice how we both look crazy with excitement?

So many friends. It was like being on a playground in kindergarten where it would never occur to you to not like someone there. People just started talking to me all over the place. I was tiny the last time that happened. It was such an amazing treat for this extrovert, seasoned at starting conversations with strangers, to be called over to sit at a table with a group of new women, just because I was sitting alone near them. Who does that? Amazing!

Clockwise from left front: 
Rosemary of Not Just Paper and Paint, Jenna of Rain on a Tin Roof
Elizabeth from Southern Color, and Denise of Denise Designed.

And then to have a deep conversation about mixing your own chalk paint, for an hour? I mean, seriously guys, this was heaven.

Brandi of Don't Disturb This Groove and Nancy at Cobani Blue.

Every where you went, everywhere you sat, people were delighted to see you, to trade business cards, to hear about your blog. And they remembered your face and smiled at you or talked to you again in the halls. There were around 400 of us. Yet people remembered me.

 Katie of Deranchification, Megan from Rappsody in Rooms, and Anna From A Good Home.

Haven was knowledge.

The classes were loaded with incredible information on everything that a little DIY blogger's heart could want. I took most of the hand's on classes, even the basic chalk painting class offered by the good women at Annie Sloan, and learned things in each one of them. I passed on the hard hitting technical and advertising sections, because I knew I just wasn't ready for that, but I had friends who went and they were thrilled with the info. Everyone is typing up their notes and sharing with each other this week. I am telling you girls, it was good, meaty stuff. All of it was presented with an attitude of "You can totally do this," that I found so encouraging.

 Marian Parsons (aka Miss Mustard Seed) and Shaunna West teaching the Advanced Painting class

This pic was of our rowdy table in the Annie Sloan class. 
Front left clockwise Sondra of Sondra Lyn at Home, Sarah of The Yellow Cape Cod (see her using my photo, yeah!), Talana Williams, Kit kat, Janis of All Things Beautiful, Doreen of Hymns and Verses (her head is just behind Sue's), 
and Sue of The Blue Building.

 I loved this pillow arrangement from the decorating class I took. Not fussy, just pretty.
Design by Sarah Macklem of The Yellow Cape Cod

Haven was swag.

Oh my heavens! So. Much. Product. I was not prepared for the amount, nor the caliber of the stuff they just gave us for attending the conference. It wasn't the cheap, "made by the gross in China" pens with logos, or the ever popular "soda cozy." It was the real McCoy. A $25 bag from Ballard Designs, a roll of tape with a wave curve on it (yes, they make chevron too ladies), safety glasses from 3M, tape measures, paint samples, cookies, and on and on. It was Christmas in August. And then, they gave you even more stuff if you went to the vendor booths.

If you took the card in your bag to the Kreg booth, they gave you your choice of which full sized tool you wanted. I opted for the Kreg jig, a pocket hole guide. I have wanted one for a year, ever since John Petersik posted about his on Young House Love. And now I had it. For free!! Bless the good people at Kreg. May they live long and happy lives, with building materials to spare. 

I even had the chance to pay it forward. Sherry Petersik herself was walking by wondering what tool she had just gotten for John, and I told her it was a ripping guide, used to ensure straight cuts over long surfaces on a table saw. She got all excited and started bubbling over about how happy John would be. Does it get any better than making your heroes happy like that?

Speaking of meeting heroes...

Haven was Heroes.

I met ALL of my blogging heroes. Every single one of them. It all started when Karianne Wood of Thistlewood Farms walked in right past me with Linda Braden from It All Started With Paint.

I have been following both of them for a while, and they are actually some of my most frequent commenters. Karianne captured my heart right after I had my breakdown over her perfect, perfect farmhouse house and then posted my very messy, but hopeful house in this post. Linda got me with her post "Blogging is ruining my life." I knew after that post, that this was a blog I needed to read.

And I actually got to help Miss Mustard Seed and Shaunna West of Perfectly Imperfect set up for their class. I was sneaking in early to save myself a seat, and they looked a bit flustered. I looked around and saw that all the tables still needed to be set up for their class. Water cups needed to be filled, table coverings put on, rags and brushes dispensed, so I asked if they needed a little help. They sure did! I spent the next hour filling cups with a bucket of water so people would be able to rinse their brushes between finishes. How fun to spend time with such great ladies.

I love how Marian looks like Shaunna just said something controversial.

The next day, they both came and plopped down at my lunch table after they finished teaching. How cool is that? I even found myself babysitting Shaunna's purse for a while while Sue and I tried to decide whether or not to go to the Annie Sloan class. Then Karianne walks up to show off her fan "love gifts."

Karianne ended up getting so many presents from fans that her bag broke. 
Earlier the day before, Katie Bower from Bower Power decided to photo bomb my pic with Nancy.
Then she and Sherry Petersik went over to the Home Depot both for a little bean bag toss.

Sorry for the "flash' shot. My camera doesn't love indoor shooting.

I even got to meet The Graphics Fairy at the after party put on by Ryobi Tools and Home Depot.

It was amazing to me how the boundaries between people dropped the longer we were there. The teachers mingled with everyone. The "celebrity" bloggers just hung with the rest of us and took the same classes we did. They were happy to answer question or tell stories to anyone. I am still pinching myself to be sure I didn't just dream it all.

Haven was My Oracle

You know how the ancient Greeks used to go visit the Oracle with much ceremony and sacrifice, to know their Fate or future, or to get the answer to a burning question? Well I have been chewing on something for quite a while. I have been wondering how this blog and my art and running the barn sales could all fit into my life a little more smoothly. They haven't been playing very nice with each other lately. 
And I have been yearning for some kind of cohesive life mission, something specific to build toward. Haven was the key I needed to unlock all that for me. The information I got, conversations I had with the people I met, even going to church with my dear friends afterwards, all connected the dots for me.

As I was flying home last Sunday night, all the stars aligned for me and I had that Click moment you hear about. I know how it all fits and why it's important to do all three. I drafted a mission statement and I have a very clear vision of where I am going, at least for the next 10 years. So give me a few more months, and then hold on to your hats, folks! It's gonna get pretty crazy down here at Gathering Branches. Change is a-comin'!


  1. Such a cool recap! I love seeing all your smiley photos. Could you please give me my Oracle moment too?! No, it doesn't work that way? Drats.


  2. Hey Marian! I am so sorry I am so late stopping by your blog. It's been so crazy here the last few weeks. Glad to be able to have a time to read through a few of your posts. Haven was amazing. Meeting you was the icing on the cake. You are such a sweetheart. I enjoyed all of our chats. So glad you had fun at the Ryobi party and even danced the night away.

  3. I agree with you! It was a blast meeting everyone!!

  4. was great meeting you at Haven. It was a wonderful few days! I hope you've had a supe weekend! Blessings......